Barbary macaques’s act of consolation

24 October 2020 # Hope

A wild group of endangered Barbary macaques have been observed, for the first time, 'consoling' and adopting an injured juvenile from a neighboring group.

The response by the neighboring group to approach and groom the injured and distressed juvenile is unusual, since wild Barbary macaques are not usually friendly towards monkeys from other groups. There is growing evidence from several species of empathy-like behaviors, such as "consolation" (providing friendly or comforting behavior to alleviate another's distress), but this case is unusual by being directed towards an unknown individual.

This suggests wild monkeys can exhibit what may be basic forms of empathy towards even unfamiliar individuals, providing a rare example of potential consolation of an unknown individual, and attesting to the social character of this species.

 

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